Facebook Shops aims to help struggling small businesses

Facebook is planning to help struggling small businesses move their storefront online with the introduction of Facebook Shops.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this online “shopping mall” available on both Facebook and Instagram will let online sellers create a virtual shopping experience for buyers and businesses.

This comes after the company released a report saying that 33% of small businesses have stopped operations in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook Shops aims to help struggling small businesses

A virtual marketplace

The barebones plans for Facebook Shops, for now, is to help sellers transition their businesses online. This means that the most important features will be product display, advertising, and customer communication.

According to Facebook, a Shop owner can set up featured products for users browsing into their online store. This will be designed to help users become familiar with what the seller has on stock.

The store can also feature marketing materials such as a back story of the seller. Sellers can also communicate with their buyers via the Shop or through Messenger and Whatsapp.

For now, buyers can directly buy via the Shops interface on Instagram, while the Shops on Facebook can redirect users to the sellers’ web pages.

Homogenized shopping environments

As mentioned, in a note posted by Zuckerberg Facebook, the feature is currently being rolled out to Instagram and Facebook.

Instagram will have a more complete shopping experience in the meantime, but the checkout feature is slated to be added to Facebook soon.

Instagram will feature a dedicated “Shopping” tab that will take users to the virtual marketplace. A version of this will also be included in the “Explore” section of the app.

The CEO also mentioned that aside from being able to communicate with buyers through Messenger and Whatsapp, an iteration of the Shops feature will also be rolled out to these platforms eventually.

Centered on seller and buyer user experience

Zuckerberg also mentioned that setting up a Shop will be entirely free for users. This means that anybody selling online will be able to put up a virtual store on Facebook properties easily.

The company is banking on seller advertising as the revenue-making model of the Shops feature.

“We know that if Shops are valuable for businesses, they’re going to in general want to bid more for ads. We’ll eventually make money that way,” said Zuckerberg in a livestream announcement of the new feature.

Live sharing some new product updates for small businesses and discussing our work helping with the economic recovery efforts.

Live sharing some new product updates for small businesses and discussing our work helping with the economic recovery efforts.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Shops will also let users integrate popular e-commerce plugins such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and Feedonomics into their respective stores.

The Facebook CEO said that this is done “so that small businesses can easily integrate into a strong, open ecosystem of tools to help them manage their customer journey end-to-end, and it’s up to the business to decide what level of integration they want.”

Images courtesy of pixinoo/Shutterstock, Sarah Marshall/Flickr

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